I spotted the catching cover of Defy on a number of reader blogs. After reading the blurb, I have to admit that I was curious. A woman hidden in a man’s army…a hot prince…two guys vying for her attention…an epic adventure…everything a girl could want in a fantasy novel, right?
Author: Sara B. Larson
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Scholastic Press via NetGalley
Release date: January 2014
Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king’s army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince’s guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can’t prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.
The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she’s sworn to protect?
Alexa and her brother were orphaned when their village was attacked. In order to stay together, they devise a risky plan…change Alexa to Alex. During the first three years, things went as plan as they trained and used their fighting skills to protect the prince. But things fell apart when her brother was tragically killed in front of her. As her world crashed around her, Alex knew it’s only a matter of time before she’s caught and sent to the breeding dens. It doesn’t matter that she’s their best fighter. When the prince was attacked, Alex did what she could to save him, getting kidnapped in the process. Taken prisoner, along with her best friend Rylan, the three of them devised a risky plan that could save the kingdom…if they don’t all die first.
I liked Alex and the rest of the characters from the beginning. The writing really drew me into Alex’s life, and I found myself immersed in her world of secrets. The hidden gender worked in the beginning, until the midway point in the book, where it just fell apart by a big reveal that made the premise implausible. Thankfully, by that time, I was ensnared in the story. The action kept me reading, eager to discover what would happened next. I enjoyed the light touch of magic and the mention of mage warriors woven into the book, but small mention was a cruel tease. I wanted more! The romance left me a little undecided. I enjoyed Alex’s dilemma of how she could fall in love with a boy when she couldn’t reveal the truth about herself, but I would’ve enjoyed a bit more. So, while I enjoyed this book, it had a few flaws. One thing that struck me was that despite a few unique plot twists, Defy was very similar to the last two fantasy books I read. Defy could’ve easily passed for 4 stars if you didn’t overthink the story.